Horror is a base genre in many respects, as it taps into our anxieties about what’s beyond the door for us all, about death and what–if anything–lies beyond. Shame then, that most genre movies get bogged down in pedestrian plotting, exasperating exposition and trivial twists. The greatest horror films are not steered by their scripts; rather, they are works of sensual alchemy. Martin Scorsese once said of Bava’s work–and I’m paraphrasing–that “Bava made films that bypass your brain and go right to your gut.” Indeed his films, and many of the great works of European horror, trade in visceral imagery and sound design to bring their nightmares to grand fruition. And if you’ve ever had a really juicy, heart squeezing, body sweating, wake-up-screaming-and-pull-the-covers-up-close nightmare, you’ll know that plot, character and dialogue aren’t what gets blasted forever onto your psyche. What strikes you and what sticks with you can’t even find articulation for, it just is.
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